I haven’t written one of these for a while, but I have an excuse! Really! On Monday morning, 1/28, we decided to go on a cruise. Three hours later, we booked it for Saturday, 2/2. Most of these entries are from the cruise. The rest of the time we were packing and unpacking.
We got a chance to get away from the kids for an evening and spent some time with our friends, Brian and Shanna. We brought out Escape: The Curse of the Temple and played a couple of quick rounds. In this cooperative game, you are exploring a cursed temple that threatens to fall down around you. You move about revealing tiles, trying to find precious gems that will allow you to escape. The exit tile is somewhere at bottom of the tile stack, so you have to keep moving. Sounds easy, right? Well, you accomplish all this through some custom dice. Any action requires a certain combination of dice rolls, and guess what? Your dice can be locked, causing you to be delayed at the most inconvenient moments. Not too bad, but wait, there’s more! You only have ten minutes to get through the entire temple! The game has an actual 10 minute soundtrack, and if you can’t escape by the time it’s over, you lose. Oh, and don’t forget that twice during that ten minutes, a gong will sound, requiring everyone to return back to the middle of the temple. This game is a real-time game, meaning that no one takes turns. Each person has their own set of dice and controls their own explorer, but you have to work together if you have any hope of success.
2013.4 – Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small – 1/13/2013
I think this is the third time we’ve played this one. We acquired it at BGG.Con last year. It is a light, fast worker placement game derived from the classic Agricola which is much heavier and more expansive. While Agricola deals with all the aspects of raising/developing a farm, All Creatures Big and Small (ACBAS) is just about raising and keeping the animals.
Two days after our first play of Mage Knight, we had to do it again. It was all we could think about. Ok, it was all I could think about, but Jessica really liked it as well. So, on Sunday, 1/6, we played another round of the tutorial scenario. Right off the bat, I got an edge by taking the really easy bad guy that showed up. This is important because your first kill will get you your first level-up fast. Jessica wasn’t quite so lucky, and that initial separation between the two of us only grew throughout the game.
I managed to draw really good cards throughout the game, even taking about some pretty sweet fire mages at some point. Jessica, however, always seemed to get unfortunate card draws that led to a lot of stagnant turns. It was a little painful to watch at times, but not so painful that I wouldn’t swoop in a take-out the bad guys that Jessica would flush out but not kill.
Overall, Jessica (obviously) didn’t have as much fun, and as a result, neither did I. I’m hoping it was not indicative a runaway leader problem in the game. We will see, but next time we will probably do a full scenario. Also, since we are not really into super-competitive games, we will try one of the cooperative scenarios. We’ll see how soon I can get Jessica to play again. 🙂
Play Rating: Looking for Balance
Arkham Horror, 2013.3
On Friday, 1/11, we brought out our all-time favorite game, Arkham Horror, to break in one of the new expansions we got for Christmas, Curse of the Dark Pharaoh, and to use some of the cool new custom pieces Jessica got me. In Arkham Horror, you play an investigator who goes about the city of Arkham gathering clues about the Mythos that you can then use to seal portals to other worlds and dimensions. You fight to stay sane and conscious as you encounter all manner of horrifying monsters and events. You know, some light-hearted fun!
In this session, we sought to prevent Bokrug from awakening. He had some minions that were trying to bring about our demise with their evil presence. On top of that, the Dark Pharaoh was acting as a herald for Bokrug and made it deadly to obtain magical items. Things were a bit grim. We had to overcome one burst seal on a gate as well as some other frustrating things, but we persevered and won the day!
In the picture above you can see some of the sweet new pieces Jessica got me for Christmas. On the bottom left (and bottom-right) at the top of the white character sheet, you’ll see a stack of red pieces and a stack of blue pieces. Some guy in Texas made these from polymer clay and are fantastic. I’ll get a better picture next time we play. Also, if you look towards the bottom-right of the board between a green and yellow box, you’ll see a brown circle with a star symbol on it. That is an Elder Sign, and the same guy made these from a fallen branch off one of his trees that happened to be the exact same diameter as the locations on the board.
The Curse of the Dark Pharaoh adds some nice items and spells to the standard decks. The Exhibit Items were pretty interesting, though the Dark Pharaoh herald made it very hard to want one. Every time we picked up an Exhibit Item, we were cursed. I’d say next time we probably won’t bother with that herald.
We played with the Dunwich expansion as well, but we didn’t spend much time up there. Jessica made it up there early to seal the gate on Wizard’s Hill and never returned. Gardner’s Place was a sight to see. Or not see. Always choose the latter when a Dark Young, Proto-Shoggoth, and Chthonian (and vampire, but he was weak sauce) have a party.
We store the game in an artist’s box we got at Hobby Lobby. It fits everything quite well, though not both Dunwich and Innsmouth expansions. We swap those in and out and play with one for a while before switching back. Above is the box fully deployed, and below is it closed up. We will one day put a vinyl Elder Sign on the front or even burn it in. We’ll see.
So, I’m going to attempt something ambitious this year. I will write a session report of all our board game plays that we have this year. I normally don’t write these or log my plays on boardgamegeek.com which has an extensive database of just that from thousands of people. I will cross post these there, but my main motivation will simply be to keep track of everything we play.
I know this won’t be of much value to anyone who visits our blog, and that’s ok. Our blog is just as much a historical record of our family as much as an information portal for others to the goings-on of the Jeppson clan. Board games have become very important for Jessica and I as a couple. They have moved on from simply a means of entertainment and a way to pass to time. Now, we learn about each other through them. We work together on common goals in some games. We learn how to better engage in conflict with each other. And we simply, well, learn together. Well-designed games will teach you something. Whether it be math, economics, game-theory, or whatever, we are learning together, and that is wonderful.
Ok, so our first game of the year was Mage Knight on Jan. 4.